About Charleston Time Machine

The Charleston Time Machine is an imaginary time-travel device created by historian Dr. Nic Butler. It uses stories and facts from the rich, deep, colorful history of Charleston, South Carolina, as a means to educate, inspire, amuse, and even amaze the minds of our community. By exploring the stories of our shared past, we can better understand our present world and plan more effectively for the future.

The Charleston Time Machine is piloted by Nic Butler, Ph.D., an interdisciplinary historian with an infectious enthusiasm for Charleston’s colorful past. A native of Greenville County, South Carolina, Dr. Butler attended the University of South Carolina before completing a Ph.D. in musicology at Indiana University. He has worked as archivist of the South Carolina Historical Society, as an adjunct faculty member at the College of Charleston, and as an historical consultant for the City of Charleston. 

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Recent Trips in Charleston's History

  • Charleston Alphabet Soup

    Today’s time-traveling menu includes a bowl of Charleston “alphabet soup,” stocked with 25 nuggets of local flavor. Rather than following the story of one person or event as a means of traveling back in Lowcountry history, we’ll sample a series of bite-sized biographical morsels to highlight some of my favorite obscure local personalities, all tastefully arranged to pique your imaginary palette.

  • The Charleston Riot of 1919

    Today marks the centenary of one of the biggest public disturbances in Charleston’s history—the “race riot” of 1919. Late on Saturday, May 10th, young white sailors fueled by racial hatred roamed the city, smashing property and spilling blood as they went. It was an ominous beginning to what became known across the United States as the “Red Summer.”

  • Searching for the History of the Gaillard Graves

    The human remains discovered at the Gaillard Center construction site in February 2013 are returning to an earthly repose this weekend. As celebrations commence to honor those thirty-six people of African descent, let’s review the history of that burial site in search of clues to help us understand who they were and how their final resting place was forgotten.

  • Abraham the Unstoppable, Part 7

    In the climax of his dramatic story, Abraham’s efforts to bring hope to the garrison at Fort Loudoun ended in tragedy and despair. While assisting his comrades at Fort Prince George, Abraham dodged Cherokee bullets and flying tomahawks, and then rode like the wind through a gauntlet of Indians to carry news of frontier violence to the provincial government in Charleston.

  • Street Cars and Trolleys on Sullivan’s Island, 1875-1927

    Once a remote and desolate beachfront, Sullivan’s Island has developed into a bustling and chic destination since the first summer residents camped there in 1791. That transformation could not have happened without the aid of ferries, mule-powered street cars, and electric trolleys that carried weary people from the mainland to the invigorating island surf over the past two centuries.

  • Abraham the Unstoppable, Part 6

    Following the colonial army’s stinging, chaotic battle with the Cherokee in late June, 1760, Abraham carried devastating news back to the provincial government in Charleston. Over the next several weeks, he shuttled repeatedly between the capital and the frontier as South Carolina struggled to continue its war against the Cherokee and to find a means of rescuing the distant garrison trapped at Fort Loudoun.

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Don't know how to get a podcast? Let us help! 

Think of a podcast as a radio show that you can get on the internet and listen to, pause, restart, and skip through anytime you want. You have a couple options: You can listen to a podcast through a website like CCPL's, which is called streaming; or you can download the podcast, which means it is saved to your phone, tablet, or computer so you can listen to it anytime -- even without an internet connection. 

To stream the Charleston Time Machine: Visit the Time Machine page and either choose an episode from the player above or choose which story you want to know more about. In each story we embed a player of that episode so you can listen as you read. 

To download: Use an app and it will be delivered each week to your phone, tablet, or computer. You'll get a fresh Time Machine podcast every Friday afternoon! We offer downloads through services you may have heard of before: Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and Tune In. Just click on the icon above of the service you want to use and click the subscribe button. It's that easy! 

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